Assessment of new varieties to improve fruit quality in dried prunes (DP12000)
What was it all about?
This project, which ran from 2010 into 2015, continued work to evaluate the suitability of new varieties of prunes under Australian conditions, comparing to the industry standard d’Agen.
Varieties included in this project were Sutter, Van der Merwe, Muir Beauty, California French Improved and d’Agen. One characteristic researchers sought was different blossom and harvest times. Planting varieties with different blossom and harvest windows prevents an entire crop from being wiped out during significant weather events as well as making better economic use of harvest and dehydration facilities.
Trees were planted in 2010 and were assessed for blossom, crop load, tree growth and fruit quality over the following years. Researchers also recorded flowering and maturity dates. Two rootstocks were trialled.
The research team reported the following key findings:
- Muir Beauty produces an abundance of early blossom, a heavy crop and large early ripening fruit, but it does not dry well in conventional drying systems
- Sutter produces robust trees capable of producing large firm fruit which dries and pits well
- The Van der Merwe flowers early but this does not reflect early fruit maturity. These trees require more intense management including annual pruning.
- California French Improved is the most important variety in California, the world’s largest prune producer. This variety suffered early setback in the trial due to the use of poor budding material. The trees have now caught up to other varieties, but are yet to produce a substantial crop.
- Overall there was no significant difference between the two rootstocks used in this trial.
Two of the trialled varieties, California French Improved and Muir Beauty, are now available from commercial nurseries in Australia, along with Krymsk rootstock which was trialled in an earlier study.
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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